Modular Storage Area Network (SAN) Solutions
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What is a Modular SAN?
A modular SAN (Storage Area Network) is a data storage system that is readily scalable, offering a flexible cost-effective approach to data storage and retrieval. Modular SANs use a building block approach, allocating storage to applications on an as-needed basis. Their architecture readily supports storage growth. Modular SANs provide user-friendly interfaces for admins that facilitate the expansion of storage capacity, which in turn reduces the need for tech support.
Modular arrays support flash storage and are physically distributed as opposed to the centralized configuration of monolithic arrays. To support resiliency, modular storage arrays offer controllers that run on separate power sources and are physically separated from the disks, so that if one fails, the other can automatically take over.
Modular SANs are 25% less costly than monolithic SANs and their setup and administration entail less overhead when compared with monolithic SAN implementations. Their capabilities are well suited for SMEs (Small to Medium-Sized Enterprises).
Modular SAN Features
- User-friendly interfaces for admins to manage and expand storage
- Multiple disk drives
- Power supply
- Decentralized data stores
- Support block-based storage and structured data
- Support flash / solid-state drives (SSDs)
- Fibre Channel (FC) connectivity
Modular SAN Comparison
Modular SAN vs Monolithic SAN: Your storage and performance requirements will inform your decision regarding these options. For small to medium size companies a modular SAN offers a cost-effective, user-friendly, build-as-you-grow approach to your storage needs. For large enterprise-scale operations with more demanding requirements, a monolithic SAN provides consistently reliable high performance and availability that comes with a higher cost, greater implementation complexity, and administration overhead.
New vs. Refurbished Equipment: Budget-conscious and small to mid-sized businesses may wish to consider purchasing refurbished modular SAN equipment which offers reduced costs, warranties, and easy access to replacements.
Public Cloud-based Data Storage and Service Options: Depending upon your goals and IT strategy any planned move to the cloud for data storage and data services could eliminate the need for any on-premises data storage devices.
While less costly than monolithic SAN products, they cost more than NAS (Network Attached Storage) and are still an expensive purchase. Vendors will provide price quotes based on your storage and performance requirements.
Types of Disk Arrays
Since there are similarities between different types of disk arrays, here are some additional details to assist you in determining which one suits your needs.
- Storage Area Network (SAN) arrays (monolithic SAN, modular SAN)
- SAN is used for block-based storage and structured data
- Connects to servers using fibre channel (FC)
- Usually implemented for application and database servers that require predictable, low latency block I/O
- Network Attached Storage (NAS) arrays
- NAS is used for file storage and unstructured data
- Connects to servers using Ethernet
- Usually implemented for IP oriented application networks
- SAN/NAS Hybrid
- Protocols for block-based storage and file storage on the same system
- Storage Virtualization
This hardware consisting of hard disk drives (HDDs), or higher-performing flash arrays / solid-state drives (SSDs) can store petabytes (PB) of data under a central management system. Disk arrays scale block or file-based storage capacity. These storage arrays manage storage more efficiently than a group of servers.
The arrays can be comprised of all-flash / SSDs, HDDs, or a hybrid combination of the two. As HDDs are less costly, they can be cost-effective for less performance-sensitive data such as backups or archived data.
Disk arrays are key components of the business storage environment offering unique designs and capabilities to support enterprise, midrange, and small businesses. Enterprise-level storage arrays are configured to manage hundreds of servers, and massive amounts of data per second. Mid or low-storage arrays are scaled to support only a few servers.